Tibetan group condemns censorship at UN World Summit

Tibet Justice Center, a Berkeley, CA-based human rights and environment group, today condemned the UN for once again failing to support the accreditation of a qualified Tibet group to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa late this summer. With the G-77 nations squarely under its thumb, China prevented consideration of the Center’s credentials through a procedural “No Action” motion. China launched a full-scale lobbying effort to shut Tibet groups out of the summit by blocking their accreditation. The International Campaign for Tibet also lost its legitimate bid for accreditation at the second WSSD preparatory meeting held in February.

China’s political arm-twisting garnered enough support to carry through its No Action motion by a vote of 107 to 45 with 16 abstentions, in spite of efforts by the US and the EU to uphold a fair accreditation process. In its statement supporting Tibet Justice Center’s accreditation, the US noted that “legitimate NGOs, including Tibet Justice Center…can and should be approved. We believe that all these well-established and widely recognized NGOs can make useful and positive contributions.” Spain, speaking for the EU and a host of associated nations, also made a strong statement in support of the accreditation.

“The UN has promised a WSSD process that is ‘open, transparent, and highly participatory,'” said D’Arcy Richardson, Chair of TJC’s Environment Committee. “What we have instead is a sham. It is blatant censorship enforced by China while the rest of the world stands by and watches.”

“The efforts of the UN in collusion with China to exclude a particular set of civil society groups whom they find objectionable damages the integrity of the WSSD, the United Nations and its stakeholder consultation processes,” said Tashi Tsering of the Tibet Justice Center. “This is yet another demonstration of the UN’s failing to support constructive dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese interests by allowing China to run roughshod over UN procedures.”

Tibet Justice Center President Dennis Cusack was outraged by the outcome of the vote, but determined to press on. With a 12-year track record of environment and development work, including successful negotiations with the Chinese government on water issues, the organization’s credentials for participation were “beyond reproach,” said Cusack. The organization has been a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) since 1990, engaging in face-to-face talks with Chinese delegation at the 1996 and 2000 World Conservation Congresses. It is the only organization representing Tibetan environment and development interests in the 900-member Union.

Representatives of the Center vowed to continue the fight for Tibetan participation in the Summit. Delegates will attend the WSSD in partnership with other organizations to make Tibetan issues part of the international agenda. “This severely compromises our ability to participate when our organization cannot represent itself,” said Mr. Cusack. “We have asked the Secretary-General to look into the irregularities that have plagued Tibetan organizations in the WSSD accreditation process, and to ensure that the Secretariat and the UN stop manipulating the system to serve one nation’s political ends.”

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